The Iowa Caucuses are just one week away Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. Are you going to participate?
Palo Alto County Democrats will meet in the courtroom at the Palo Alto County Courthouse in Emmetsburg. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. and the caucus will be called to order at 7 p.m.
Palo Alto County Republicans will meet in the auditorium at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg. The caucus will be called to order at 7 p.m.
To participate in the caucus, you have to declare a party. That can be done at either the Democrat or Republican caucus on Jan. 3. In that respect, participating in the caucus is similar to voting in the primary election you have to declare a party.
The 2012 Iowa Caucus is historically the first caucus in the nation. Here's a little history lesson.
Did you know, under state law, Iowa is sanctioned to be the first caucus held in the nation, not the first primary? With other states moving their caucuses and primaries ahead of Iowa's proposed Feb. 6, 2012 caucus, the state had no choice but to move its caucus to Jan. 3.
Here's another fact: For the last ten Iowa caucuses, Iowa has identified the nation's two primary picks for the top runner form both the Democrat and Republican party five times and from just the Democrat party six times.
On the Wikipedia site, it identifies candidates that won the party's nomination, plus the candidates that subsequently won the general election:
Democrats: 2008 Barack Obama; 1996 Bill Clinton; 1980 Jimmy Carter.
Republicans: 2004 and 2000 Georg W. Bush; 1992 George H.W. Bush; 1984 Ronald Reagan; 1976 Gerald Ford.
Describing the process of the caucus, Wikipedia offers: "The Iowa caucuses operate very differently from the more common primary election used by most other states. The caucuses are generally defined as "gatherings of neighbors." Rather than going to polls and casting ballots, Iowans gather at a set location in each of Iowa's 1,784 precincts "Unlike the first-in-the-nation primary in new Hampshire, the Iowa caucus does not result directly in national delegates for each candidate. Instead, caucus-goers elect delegates to county conventions, who in turn elect delegates to district and state conventions where Iowa's national convention delegates are selected. Ironically, the state conventions do not take place until the end of the primary and caucus season: Iowa is in fact one of the very last states to choose its delegates."
We like to think that Iowans are politically savvy, keeping up with issues on the local, state, national and international venues. Residents of Palo Alto County are down to earth and honest.
Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director, observes, "It's that rural ethic, too, that draws candidates to Iowa every four years. Voters are committed and intelligent, asking tough questions and carefully weighing their options. In these waning days of the caucus campaign, it's a final chance for Iowans to remind the candidates, and the nation, of rural America's importance."
Voters of Palo Alto County are encouraged to get involved and attend either the Democrat or Republican caucus on Jan. 3. It's an interesting process where you can make your voice heard on issues and candidates. Make it a point to attend. See you at the caucus!